Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's Ballmer, Hon

trompe l'oeil wall"Baltimoreans live in “Ballmer, Merlin” off the coast of the “Chest Peak ” bay, not too far from the capital “Nap Lis.” When they are thirsty, they want some “wooder” or “Natie Bow.” Their baseball team are the “O-reos” and when they want to go to the beach they go “Downey Owe Shin” ~ from

I am basically a city girl, being so close to Washington, DC. Maybe I know my city too well, maybe it's just not large enough, or maybe it's too clean, stuffy, or renovated/rebuilt in the name of progress. I love Baltimore. It is beautiful, exciting, full of wonder and has surprises a doll house?at every turn. See those dolls on the transom? What is the story behind that? Voodoo? talisman, or just a playful touch? I made my husband turn around so I could take a photo. It was one of those neighborhoods where the home values and the safety decrease block by block as you get further away from the park. Truly urban and trendy.

And the park - I still have photos from Patterson Park to show you ~
a row of rowhousesa picture of a picture-taker
the city falls to the southchildren in the park

rusted sidewalkAs we were leaving the park, my husband commented that he bet that at any point on earth one could compose a good picture. I stopped in my tracks and took this one of the sidewalk just to prove his/my point. I captured another photographer taking close-ups of the tulips, the view from this high point in the city and the quintessential row of Baltimore rowhouses. Rowhouses have stoops, and the Ballmer stoop is famous in it's own way. Why there is even a Stoop Storytelling group.

The thing I find interesting about Ballmer stoops is that they are often not attached in any way to the house. Story goes that in the 1700s, early 1800s, Italian craftsmen did a lot of the marble work on many Baltimore buildings. Ships coming from Europe needed ballast, so they would bring over big slabs of marble. It was cheap so they used it to make steps for working class houses. I love to see the indentations worn into the marble where people stepped in and out of their homes day after day. I noticed many new stoops on this trip, heavy 2 steppers pushed up against the rowhouse wall. It now seems strange to me that I did not take a stoop photo.

pretty in pinkThe other photos I did not take were of boarded up rowhouses It somehow felt like I would be invading her privacy or exposing this magical city's shame. This is a poor city, as many are. But some of this urban blight is about to change. Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland have been buying up whole blocks of rowhouses that they will tear down to build science + technology research parks. They will change the face of the city but also bring much needed employment opportunities and spur development on the city's east side.stone church
The city is also home to many, many churches and hospitals and has a strong Catholic history. A look at the street map shows many Saint this and Saint that - churches, schools, hospitals.

As I mentioned before in my Down Under travel writing, that trip changed the way I see the world. I think my eyes were opened wider when I was in New Zealand and Australia. It's a blessing to come back home and experience the familiar through these new eyes of mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love that wall painted like the side of a lovely house here in Bawlmer? I pass it alot of days on my work travels here in my hometown Baltimore HON. I love this city and harbor and all our "stars"we rub elbows with often(Keanu Reeves,Meg Ryan)I've been in 2 movies and hubby in a few "Homocides",Hollywood East here.Joy Logan